Quality and The Oscars
So it’s Oscar time. Which means award times. And, well, I’m mildly disappointed with some of the nominations. I find that movies, video games, and so on can’t be judged subjectively or comparatively. Least not on a flat scale of quality+writing+cinematography+explosions.
Here’s how I judge stuff: did it accomplish what it set out to do, and did it do it well? It’s an odd scale, yeah, but it’s one that works. Like Lincoln, the movie that snatched a dozen nominations: Spielburg set out to create the definitive cinematic biography of Linocln and the passage of the 13th Amendment. Not only did he accomplish that, he made it look good. So yes, Lincoln was a good movie.
In a similar but different vein, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter presented itself as a biography of Lincoln’s life, only this time vampires were woven in as the primary antagonist. Did it pull it off? Yep. Was it the dramatic action movie it billed itself as? Oh yes. So yes, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was also a good movie. But it would never win an Oscar.
Do I want Lincoln to win Best Picture? No, not really. It’s a great movie, but it’s, well, it’s obvious. I guess Armour is too, though I haven’t seen it and won’t say anything. I’m going to watch Beasts of the Southern Wild sometime before tonight because I want to see it.
And the others? Zero Dark Thirty had the best portrayal of a military raid in cinema that I can think of. Not only did it follow proper procedure, but the whole way it was done gave it the tension and moral ambiguity that it deserved. Les Miserables was a great musical and definitely deserves the nod, but that’s about it.
I read Life of Pi seven years ago on a ship in Norway and enjoyed the book and the movie captured it perfectly. Lastly, Django Unchained is Tarantino being Tarantino, and hey, no complaints there. It’s not as good as Inglorious, but it’s not crud either.
That leaves Argo and Silver Linings Playbook and they’re my favorites of the nominees. Why?
Argo was different. It was a drama/thriller, but it was also funny. It was intense, but it remained fun without negating any of its intensity. Any idea how hard that is to pull off?
Then Silver Linings is about broken people and I love it because it takes a movie about a romance and gives it weight and worth. But it won’t win because it can be passed over as a romantic comedy and who’d want one of those to win? (Also: Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in that movie was fantastic)
So what movies would I want nominated and why? So glad you asked, dear reader, because you’ll find out.
Right off the bat: Skyfall. Yes, it’s a James Bond movie which means it shouldn’t win, but it’s just too dang good for it to not even be recognized. It’s smart, well made, and, hey, I’ve been over this before. At least we all know it’ll get the Oscar for Best Original Song.
My favorite movies of 2012 will forever be The Avengers (with Silver Linings second). Joss Whedon and crew set out to create an ensemble superhero movie and they pulled it off. At least give the man a writing nomination for being able to balance six main characters without any being terribly overshadowed. It’s simply a well made movie but gets precluded due to its ‘light’ subject matter. So no Oscar.
Beyond those two, Looper should’ve gotten a nod at least for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s makeup and Ted for special effects. Cabin in the Woods had a wonderfully clever script, but we all knew it wouldn’t be nominated.
At the end of the day, though, doesn’t really matter who’d I want to win. Heck, I’ve never even watched the Oscars before (I will tomorrow, though). All they do is annoy me because the movies I want to win never win. I find them to be so… not predictable but routine. Up or District 9 or True Grit would never win because they were either genre or just too fun. By nature Oscar movies have to be better than other movies. Not The Dark Knight better than Batman and Robin sort of better, but rather the Lincoln better than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter better. Oscar movies need to be serious, maybe inspirational, but certainly dramatic; earnestness, spirit, and heart need not apply. But movies like Silver Linings Playbook and Argo have heart to spare.
Finally: If Paperman doesn’t win Best Animated Short I will strangle a baby narwhal.*
*Writer’s note: I will not strangle a baby narwhal due to a) my lack of access to a baby narwhal and 2) why would anyone want to strangle a baby narwhal (besides Paperman not winning)?